Something unusual happened during Hope Powell’s latest press conference.

Well, one says “unusual”. It might become more usual as the coronavirus shutdown continues.

The microphone was open for the reporter whose turn it was to ask the Albion boss a question during a video link-up.

No question came. Not to Powell anyway.

But, in the background, you could just about make out a child’s voice asking someone: “Can I have  this for my birthday?”

A question OF hope rather than FOR Hope, maybe.

Family life has had to mix with work in the last week or so and that will continue for some time yet.

It brings its own hitches and amusing moments but they are heavily outweighed by the benefits and Albion have taken full advantage.

The much-praised video link with Graham Potter and Paul Barber last Thursday was the best ‘attended’ press conference for a long time and the longest too at about 90 minutes.

There was a similar set-up via the Zoom conferencing system on Monday for Powell and Fliss Gibbons.

Also on Monday, Albion put the technology to work in-house for a staff meeting.

Again, it was a success. That success was measured not just in terms of getting information across and questions answered.

But also at a more human level as a way of bringing staff together from whatever part of the house they might be in.

The philosophy will be extended over the coming weeks with the Albion Hour initiative as supporters groups link live with, initially, Barber and maybe other key figures from the club if the halt in action extends.

Barber said: “Every two months or so, we have an all-staff meeting. We call them a Town Hall.

“I get all the staff at the stadium together in the morning and talk to them about what is going on at the club and they can ask questions, face to face.

“In the afternoon I do the same at the training ground for all the staff based there. It is face-to-face direct commination. We try to do it four or five times a year

“At the moment we can’t do that. We were due to have a meeting and we thought, ‘Why don’t we just do it via video conference?’.

“At its peak, 270 staff tuned in, which is amazing. Everybody could see me and it also meant when they had a question I could see all of them.

“At the moment, it is an unsettling time for everybody.

“The chance to speak face-to-face to all staff from both sites from their living rooms, studies, bedrooms, gardens, in some cases conservatories, was great, “It was also a lot of fun because what it also highlights for everybody was those people who are working from home with children, it’s tough, really tough.

“For those people who have got to look after other members of their family, it’s tough. For those people who have got pets at home, it’s tough.

“We had all kinds of little interruptions from small kids, big kids, dogs.

“You know what? It was a really humbling and heartening experience.

“It showed people are not only trying to be professional and get on with their jobs at difficult times, but also highlighted how many other things people are trying to cope with. It’s not easy, it really isn’t easy.

“I think it was good not only for me to see that as a chief executive but also for all our management team to see what their colleagues are dealing with.

“And also for each other to see what each other is dealing with.

“That again is a great way in this situation of keeping everyone supportive of each other.

“And it also goes to show how much effort people are making to keep doing their jobs.

“We wanted it to be serious but, at the same time, relaxed.

“We didn’t want people to think their home had to be pristine and the kids couldn’t make a noise.

“That’s not fair. People have got enough to worry about without that type of pressure.”

Barber has been impressed by the service Zoom have set up and believes it could be of value when life returns to normal.

He added: “The technology has been incredibly stable and incredibly efficient and we really appreciate how good it has been.

“We’ve had, I think, two board meetings now for the club using this kind of technology, with people obviously spread all over different places, which has worked better than had been expected.

“And, obviously, we had the Premier League shareholders’ meeting by the same format and I think it has shown we don’t all necessarily have to trundle around the country just to attend meetings in an effective manner.

“That’s a positive. We’ve been very open and consistent with our communication to our own staff, which we were anyway.

“I think people have realised how important it is to read every message that they get - and every part of that message is important in different ways.

“So I think it has heightened people’s awareness of the importance of communication generally at this time.

“And, ironically as we’re all isolated, that communication becomes even more precious because you’re not having those normal daily interactions with people.”